September 19, 2021

CFO Perspective: Automating Manufacturing Business Processes

by Vanessa Quake, DigitalCFO | 30 Mar 2021

Manufacturing automation is expanding from shop floor automation to business process automation. Digitalizing and automating business processes and business workflows across the entire organization, IA promises to increase the efficiency of equipment and manpower, enhance cybersecurity, improve customer experience, and most important allowing knowledge workers to focus on more critical issues rather than on mundane work.

However, even in today’s highly digitalized world, half of all manufacturing companies still use manual processes to monitor changes and exceptions to their supply chains.

Using IA to automate manual and repetitive processes so that employee workforce can achieve operation excellence, and in due course reduce business expenses. But IA goes beyond conventional automation like scanning, OCR, and data validation, to more advanced forms like machine learning, artificial intelligence, RPA, mobility and engagement, cognitive capture, process orchestration, advanced analytics. 

But what are some of the things that we need to look out for when we explore intelligent automation for ourselves? We complied some of the key takeaways from our conversation with FUJIFILM Business Innovation and some manufacturing industry leaders about what we need to keep an eye on when planning IA initiatives.  

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

This old quote will elicit collective eye rolls from leaders everywhere as it has become a management school cliché. But the reality is that the main driver of automation is change management – getting the people to shift their culture to embrace automation. At a time where economies have been in turmoil, people are exceedingly worried about job security and need to understand the positive changes that IA can bring to their roles, and where they will fit into the big picture.

Very closely linked to employee acceptance, is buy-in from senior leadership. Transformation initiatives are best driven from the top, ensuring that all departments within the organization have transformation OKRs and KPIs that serve overall organizational strategy.

The hearts and minds of the people must be ready for change.

Harry Salas – CFO, Manila Health-Tek

Find that Lighthouse

Transformation projects are no simple feat and can be costly and labour intensive. When working to get senior leadership buy in, our panel recommends finding that lighthouse project to demonstrate the ROI of automation. Identify processes that are bottle necks or pain points that can be easily fixed with automation and prioritize those for automation.

If you undertake an automation project which takes too long, you’ll lose steam. Get small wins first. You will be seen as being trust worthy, and can go for a bigger win and can automate a bigger process later.

Shian Goh – Finance Director, TeckWah Industrial Corporation

Measure Twice, Cut Once

We can’t seem to get enough of the clichés in this article but while this age old adage usually applies to carpentry, it is no less true for business. Planning your automation initiatives can improve results, minimize waste, save time and provide better ROI for the organization.

Spend more time on planning, and less on implementation.

Naresh Lahoti – Finance and Technology Executive

Don’t Be The Moth

When you kick start your automation transformation, one of the important things to recognize is that it is not a panacea for all of an organisations problems. The reality is that not all process can (or should) be automated. Leaders should focus on identifying the processes which are primed for automation and improvement, and then find the tool that can best help them solve that problem.

Some people have the mistaken idea that automation is the “shiny new object” that is going to solve all our problems.

Ho Swee Huat – Principal Consultant, Advanced Industrial Services, FUJIFILM Business Innovation Asia Pacific

Get all the insights. Watch the full webinar on-demand here.